Monday, March 14, 2011

The Writing Week (Vol. 4) part 167 - Make your Writers Group Work for You

The League is, first and foremost, a writers group. Obviously, this blog is a big component of what we do; but we initially came together to share pages. The marketing and information sharing is not the glue that holds us together. 

Recently, we've been firming up our schedule, so as to ensure that meetings aren't dropped or missed. We cemented our meeting date as the second Tuesday of each month. (In the past, we somewhat haphazardly tried to meet every two weeks. While the frequency of the meetings was great at first, it became difficult to maintain. More so, though, the meetings became less productive. Whereas we might have a full script to read one week, the next meeting might see ten pages from one person and a brief outline from another. This can be great, but as we all matured as writers, we found the need to present full or at least half drafts greater than showing off the first ten pages. Thus, the meetings became less frequent, as we frequently had less we wanted to show for them. The end result was that we were meeting irregularly, often shifting dates, and attendance was not always high.) 

The regular schedule has had the obvious effect of bringing people together more readily. We had one snafu with our February meeting and had to change it, but now people know that they have to clear a certain day of the month for the meetings, and they have a week before that date to get pages out. With the stress or confusion of scheduling the meetings out of the way, it's much easier to just focus on the pages for them.

We met last week. The only piece of material on the agenda was the outline for my horror spec. Typically, our group just dives right into notes. We're at a place where we no longer even devote a lot of time to what worked. In the formative days of a writers group, positive feedback is essential. though it's still helpful, we're all comfortable enough with each other to bypass that and go right to the trouble areas. However, this meeting was a bit different. I knew that there would be specific notes on what wasn't working, but getting those notes was not my priority. Rather, I wanted to have a more open, broader discussion on the script as a whole.

I feel like there are a number of directions I can take the script, and while the one I'm pursuing seems the most logical from a narrative point of view, I wanted to know what the rest of the group thought. I really like the idea that drives the script, and my biggest concern was whether or not it felt underused. Certainly, I didn't want everyone coming away with the opinion that the idea was cool, but the execution was less original. Luckily, that wasn't the case. I prefaced the meeting with an email to the group saying what I was looking for and what kind of discussion I wanted to have. I knew what I needed from the meeting, and the group gave it to me. If you have a writers group (I strongly suggest you find a few folks to start one up with if you don't), presenting them with what you need to best develop your material is a great way to make it work for you.